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More Indictments for Michael Avenatti

How many Indictments does this make? Michael Avenatti has been charged in new indictments with ripping off Stormy Daniels and his extortionist threats to Nike.

What are the odds he can beat all of them?

The Nike extortion Indictment has dozens of references to "CC-1, who is attorney Mark Geragos. Geragos retained Ben Brafman after the failed power play made the news. It seems to me that Brafman did an amazing job keeping Geragos from getting indicted.

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Government Seeks 17 Years for Son of Ismael Zambada-Garcia

The Government filed its sentencing memorandum today in the case of Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, son of Sinaloa Cartel co-leader Ismael Zambada-Garcia, who cooperated with the government and testified against El Chapo. A post on his plea agreement is here.

Vicente has been in custody since 2010. In his own case, he initially raised the "public authority" defense and tried to convince the Court he was acting with the approval of the D.E.A. as an informant. After that failed, he became a cooperator and was interviewed more than 100 times.

He and his family will remain in the U.S. after he finishes his sentence, with new identities courtesy of the Witness Protection Program.

The government could have recommended 10 years, but it didn't. It is recommeding 17 years, 2 years more than the Flores twins. (See their history and the history of their co-consspirators here). It points out that Vicente ordered the murders and kidnappings of many people. But unlike the Flores twins, who got 14 years, he never lied.

Initially, Mexico was unhappy with the government's deal with Zambada-Niebla's cooperation deal and the plan to extradite El Chapo. I wonder what the new AMLO Admninistration feels the same.

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Admissions Cheating Scandal: Updates and Thoughts

Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston Monday to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud/honest services fraud. Her sentencing guidelines according to the plea agreement (available here) are either 4 to 10 months (government’s calculation) or 0 to 6 months (Huffman's calculations.) Prosecutors say they will recommend 4 months in prison either way.

A jail or prison sentence is unlikely in my view. [More...]

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Michael Cohen: "The Fixer" Heads to Otisville

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is scheduled to surrender Monday to the federal prison complex at Otisville, NY. Like all Otisville inmates, he will first be evaluated at the medium security prison. When his eval is over, he will walk up the road to satellite prison camp, (a minimum security facility with communal dorm rooms instead of cells that is more like an army barracks than a prison.) According to the Bureau of Prison's Statistical page, today there are 113 inmates at the camp. (Fill in the blanks with "Northeast Region" and "New York" and "Otisville").

Here is an account written by an attorney and friend of mine of his first days at Otisville (published in Chicken Soup for the Soul), and an extremely irreverent but sometimes funny and occasionally insightful blog (if you can get past the deprecating language the Jewish author, a former attorney and Otisville inmate named Lawrence Dressler, uses for his fellow Jews and others which he thinks is funny)about life at Otisville. (He was there for mortgage fraud). Here's his latest post about Michael Cohen.

Mike "the Situation" Sorrentino from the Jersey Shore reality TV show is serving a short sentence at Otisville right now for a tax offense. So is Billy McFarlan of the infamous "Freye Festival". Most but not all of the 113 camp inmates are Jewish and sentenced for white collar or drug offenses. Sorrentino and McFarlan are exceptions.

I highly doubt Cohen will have a problem with other inmates because he cooperated with Mueller. He'll have lots of company on that front. Also, he didn't get a cooperation reduction in the NY case for which he's going top jail. The government wrote in its sentencing brief: [More...]

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Mass. State Judge Indicted for Assisting Undocumented Defendant Avoid ICE

Shelley M. Richmond Joseph, a state district court judge in Mass. has been indicted for obstruction of justice and related charges for assisting an undocumented defendant with an ICE detainer to leave the courthouse.

I haven't had time to read the Indictment yet but it is available here.

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Michael Avenatti Indicted in California

Lawyer and TV pundit Michael Avenatti has been charged in federal court in Los Angeles with 36 counts of fraud, tax crimes, obstruction and related offenses. The charges principally relate to his use of settlement money received for clients for his own use, and failing to pay his taxes. The U.S. Attorney's long announcement is here. The even longer Indictment is here.

There are four clients highlighted in the charges "client 1" client 2 client 3 and client 4. Client 1 is a parapalegic for whom he (and co-counsel) obtained a $4 million settlement from the City of Los Angeles. The unnmamed client is Geoffrey Ernest Johnson. The case is 13-cv-04496-MMM-AJW in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. In one pleading I read, Doc. 119, Avenatti and cocounsel describe their client:

Plaintiff is a paraplegic who sustained his life altering injuries while in Defendants’ custody at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. Plaintiff sustained his injuries when he attempted to commit suicide for a second time while in Defendants’ custody. Both times it was by jumping from an upper tier. Since Plaintiff was an inmate in Defendants’ custody, Defendants and their employees had a constitutional obligation to take reasonable measures to protect Plaintiff’s safety and to provide safe conditions of confinement.


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Julian Assange Charged With Hacking Conspiracy

Julian Assange has been arrested and removed from the Ecuador Embassy in London, where he has spent the last 7 years, due to the return of an Indictment in the U.S. charging him with conspiring with Chelsea Manning and others to commit conspiracy intrusion. The charge carries up to five years in prison. The Indictment is available here.

Assange, arrested by British police in London and carried out of Ecuador’s embassy, faces up to five years in prison on the American charge, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement. His arrest paved the way for his possible extradition to the United States.

The Indictment was obtained in March 2018 and sealed until today. [More...]

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"El Chapo" Seeks New Trial for Juror Misconduct

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman-Loera has filed a motion for an evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether flagrant and admitted juror misconduct during the trial warrants a new trial.

I wrote this long post on the juror misconduct when it was first disclosed.

The 26 page motion is available here. It was written by attorneys Marc Frenich and Jeffrey Lichtman (and very well done in my opinion).

I doubt this judge will allow the defense to question the jurors, but hopefully he'll at least agree to question them himself and ask written questions proposed by both sides.

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Michael Avenatti With Multiple Crimes in NY and LA

Months ago, Michael Avenatti, the abrasive TV pundit and lawyer for Stormy Daniels, was suggesting he should be President. Today, he was charged in Federal Court with two sets of crimes:

Lawyer Michael Avenatti was hit with a one-two punch of federal charges on Monday: an allegation in New York that he tried to extort Nike for up to $25 million and an accusation in California that he misappropriated a client’s settlement money.

....Minutes later, on the opposite coast, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman told reporters that Avenatti had “used legal and extortionate threats with the purpose of obtaining millions of dollars in payments for himself”—an old-fashioned shakedown.

Here is the Press Release from the SDNY. The Criminal Complaint and Affidavit is here. [More...]

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U.S. Seeking Extradition for Two More Sons of El Chapo

Yesterday the Justice Department announced that indictments had been unsealed in the District of Colombia for two more of El Chapo's sons, Joaquin Guzman-Lopez and Ovidio Guzman-Lopez. The Indictment is here.

The Indictment was returned and ordered sealed almost a year ago, in April, 2018. In December, 2018, it was unsealed for a few days so the Government could include it in an extradition application for them. On January 25, 2019, the Government moved to permanently unseal the Indictment. The motion was granted on Feb. 14, 2019.

The charges are for conspiring to distribute large amounts of cocaine, meth and marijuana between April, 2008 and April, 2018, knowing it would be imported into the U.S.

Two other sons of El Chapo, Ivan Guzman-Salazar and Jesus Alfredo Guzman-Salazar have been under federal Indictment in the U.S. for several years. Ivan is charged in San Diego and Alfredo in Chicago. [More...]

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El Chapo Juror Drops a Dime on Him/Her Self and Other Jurors

This is a pretty remarkable interview by Vice News with an anonymous juror or alternate in the trial of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. The juror says s/he, as well as multiple other jurors, regularly violated the court's instructions not to read media accounts of the trial, including tweets and articles containing information that was purposely withheld from the jurors, and then lied to the judge when questioned about it. They also discussed El Chapo's guilt before deliberations began, took notes out from the jury room (which wasn't allowed), and considered punishment, even though they were admonished not to. I'm not sure there's a rule this group didn't break, according to the "snitch juror."

It seems to me it would take the FBI about ten minutes to figure out this juror's identity, and another half hour for a the Government to file a motion for a show cause order directing the juror to appear in court and show cause why s/he shouldn't be held in contempt. [More...]

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Smollett Indicted in Illinois

Jussie Smollett has been charged in Chicago with a felony for allegedly falsely reporting a hate crime.

From the article, it appears the prosecutors called brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo as witnesses before the grand jury this evening.

The men had reportedly told investigators that Mr. Smollett had coordinated a faux attack and paid them to participate in it.

Filing a false report in Illinois can be a misdemeanor or felony. The Grand Jury indicted Smollett for the felony version, which carries up to 3 years in prison.

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Defense Gives Closing in "El Chapo" Trial

The Government gave an all day closing argument yesterday in the trial of el Chapo. Shorter version: We're not asking you to like our 13 dirty snitches, most of whom will get visas to stay in the U.S. permanently, we're asking you to presume they are telling the truth and find El Chapo guilty.

Jeffrey Lichtman, the most bombastic of El Chapo's lawyers, is giving the defense closing. Three themes:

1. Where is Mayo, why isn't he here? While Chapo was being "hunted like an animal," El Mayo was "sitting on his ass, sunning himself, smoking a cigar."

2. Would you want to be put away based on the testimony of 14 lying, thieving snitches, some of whom are admitted murderers and all of whom are being paid for their testimony with promises of leniency for their own misdeeds?

3. It's the corruption. "He's paying everybody from the local beat cops up to the president." Mayo's sons get sweetheart deals, Mayo stays free, and the universe falls on El Chapo to take the blame. [More...]

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Roger Stone Indicted by Mueller

Roger Stone has been indicted by Team Mueller. The Indictment is here. The Washington Post reports (no link due to auto-play video)

With Stone’s indictment, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has struck deep inside Trump’s inner circle, charging a long-standing friend of the president. The court filing charges Stone sought to gather information about hacked emails at the direction of an unidentified senior Trump campaign official, and then engaged in extensive efforts to keep secret the details of those efforts.

Stone's reaction: He's innocent, he'll never plead guilty or make up stories to help authorities get Donald Trump.

“There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself. I look forward to being fully and completely vindicated,” Stone said. “I will not testify against the president because I would have to bear false witness.”

Who's who in the Indictment?

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How to Avoid the Goof Made by Manafort's Lawyers

I've seen two versions of the "unredacted" version of the response filed by Paul Manafort's lawyers. In this version provided by the Associated Press (and opened in Adobe Acrobat) it's clear the redaction failed and whoever did the final proofread should have seen it.

In this version provided by the Daily Beast, also opened in Adobe Acrobat (on a PC), the document appears to be redacted so it might not have been apparent to whoever did the final proof-read. Once open, if you choose the select tool and highlight the blackened parts, then right click and press copy, and then paste in into Microsoft Word, the unredacted text appears. (I have no idea if a Mac works the same way as I don't use my Mac for work, only for music and videos. And I never open PDF's in a browser like Chrome or Firefox, only Adobe Acrobat DC Pro which I assume most law firms use). (It's the same in Adobe X which while outdated, I still use on some laptops and actually prefer.)

VICE presents ways to avoid the cut and paste trick, including making a scanned copy or taking a screenshot. That's problematic for some federal courts, including those in Colorado. [More...]

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